Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Followup-To: alt.revisionism Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Chelmno's Gas Wagons (1 of 5) [Translation] Archive/File: camps/chelmno/gas-wagons/sonderdruck.0387 Last-Modified: 1996/03/08 < Mathias Beer,> <"Die Entwicklung der Gaswagen beim Mord an den Juden"> < Miszelle> < Vierteljahreshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte, 37 (3), pp. 403-417> sonder [Title Page] EDITED by KARL DIETRICH BRACHER AND HANS-PETER SCHWARZ Pre/Re-print of part 3/1987
Page One, p.403 --------------- Miscellany MATHIAS BEER THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE GAS-VAN IN THE MURDERING OF THE JEWS The gas-van is a special product of the Third Reich, it is a van with a gas-tight cabin/container-box/superstructure mounted on its chassis/understructure used to kill people by the motor-exhausts led into that cabin. The designation was coined only later: "_Gaswagen_ [Gas-van] - that was the common word only afterwards/later".  In the contemporaneous documents the designation doesn't arise. There the words _Sonder-Wagen_, _Sonderfahrzeug_, _Spezialwagen_ and _S-Wagen_ [Special van, special vehicle] are used. In a letter dating from April 11th 1942 with hindsight to camouflage the word _Entlausungswagen_ [delousing-van] is used. There are in all fourteen documents related to that complex, allowing to assess which types of vans were transformed/rebuilt into gas-vans and providing technical data on the container/cabin/superstructure. The documents give informations about the producers/vendors of the vans, about technical improvements due to practical experience, about the operation Page Two, p.404 --------------- and the operating locations of different vans, moreover the responsible official services and individuals in charge of the employment of gas-vans are named. Hence a rather detailed picture emerges which is, however, not exhaustive/complete as documents are available only for the timespan/period starting in 1942 when gas-vans were already in use for the killings of human beings . Based only on the written records not much can be said about the period when the gas-vans were under development. So the route of decisions leading to the construction and the operation/usage of these vans remains unclear/obscure. This state of things may be amended by the results of the multitude of trials held since 1945. In the Federal Republic mainly since 1958 the installation of the Central Agency [_Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen_ =ZSL] for the prosecution of national-socialist crimes in Ludwigsburg and the investigations started by that agency have enlarged our knowledge about the crimes of the NS-regime. However, the historian cannot adopt results of trials without probing them, as jurisdiction and historiographic science are directed by different purposes . With the historian, witness-testimonies are of formost importance as they assist in closing gaps left by documents. But due to their pecularities witness-testimonies may be used as equals to documents and appraised by the historic research with valid results only if certain principles are obeyed . The basic principle requires that the link between testimony and critically validated documents shouldn't be abandoned whenever possible, that is, the most probable fact must be linked to the certified fact . There will remain questions which can't be answered satisfactorily by this method. There are witness testimonies reporting that during the cleansing/purging of mentally insane in the hospitals in Poland 1939/40 a hermetic sealed trailer with the label "_Kaisers-Kaffee-Geschaeft" [about: Kaiser's coffee shop], with a tractive unit/tractor/towing vehicle in front was used. Page Three, p.405 ----------------- In the trailer, insane persons were killed allegedly by the introduction of pure carbon-monoxide (CO) from (steel) cylinders . The origin/source of these vehicles cannot be traced back as documents are lacking. However, there are hints that there is a link between "_Kaisers-Kaffee_"-vans and the gas-vans. Therefore we first investigate the few testimonies related to "_Kaisers-Kaffee_"-vans and then the development of the gas-vans. In a letter dated 1st september 1939, Hitler entitles/orders his personal/assisting medecin Dr.Karl Brandt and the _Reichsleiter_ Philipp Bouhler of the Fuehrer's chancellery to carry out the _Euthanasie_ -program . The _Kriminaltechnisches Institut [KTI]_ in the _Reichssicherheitshauptamt [RSHA]_ was ordered to test/explore appropriate killing procedures/agencies, and reported that the best method to kill would be the use of CO . Following first experimental gassings in the prison of Brandenburg/havel in January 1940 - in a hermetic sealed room mentally insane had been killed with pure CO -, the method was used in all other "_Euthanasie_" set-ups/centers. The necessary CO was acquired by the _Fuehrer's_ chancellery under cover-up/camouflage indirectly via the KTI, this being based on an agreement between the head of the _Euthanasie_-agency, Brack, and Widmann, head of the _Referat V D2_ (Chemistry and Biology) . On order by Nebe, head of _Amt V_ [department] (counter- criminality) in the RSHA, _SS-Sturmfuehrer_ Becker got the (steel) cylinders at the IG Farben [factory] in Ludwigshafen and delivered them to the different installations . _SS-Sturmbannfuehrer_ Heess, head of the KTI, was knowledgeable/knew about the close relation/collaboration beteen the Fuehrer's chancellery and the KTI . The "_Kaisers-Kaffe_"-van operated through the same principle as the gas-chambers of the "_Euthanasie_"- installations. CO was guided into a trailer through hoses from a cylinder which was fixed to the tractor. This was, hence, a gas-chamber on wheels . Witnesses report that since september 1939 the _Sonderkommando Lange_ [Special commnad/task force] killed mentally Page Four, p.406 ---------------- insane people in such vans in pommeranian, eastern-prussian and polish hospitals . The name of that command is derived from the name of its head, _SS-Sturmfuehrer_ and _Kriminalrat_ Herbert Lange. The letter from the Higher SS- and Police leader Koppen to the _SS-Gruppenfuehrer_ Sporrenberg elucidates the operationing/work of that command in Soldau: "The special command being under my command for particular tasks was sent to Soldau during the time from 21.5 to 8.6.1940 in accord with the RSHA and has evacuated 1588 insane persons from the transition-camp during that time."  A vehicle of that kind was brought with Lange either from the RSHA (the testimonies by Gustav Sorge  and the important role of the _Gruppe II D_, technical matters, in the RSHA in the later development of the gas-van  back this assumption, or he organized its production in collaboration with the RSHA . Alfred Trenker, deputy head of the _Stapo_ bureau (state police) in Posen testified that Lange had told him in summer 1940, he, Lange, had to travel to Berlin and the RSHA several times because of "conferences/meetings about the suitable type of gassing-vans" . These testimonies let suppose that the operationing of the "_Kaisers-Kaffee_"-vans was optimized for the purpose of the _Sonderkommando Lange_, which had probably the taks to practically test these vehicles. Apparently, they didn;t operate adequately (Lange mentioned something to that extent against Trenker ) and the _Sonderkommando Lange_ was disbanded/ got leave soon after their task in Soldau. Starting from that time, there aren't found any reports about the operations/usage of that kind of vehicles. The exchange of letters/correspondence about the still due payments in connection with the _Sonderkommando Lange_, which lasted till february 1941, shows that as well Himmler knew about the whole affair. In a letter by Koppe to Karl Wolff, head of the personal staff of the _Reichsfuehrer SS_, dated 22. February 1941, it is mentioned, "that you by order of the _Reichsfuehrer SS_ would decide about the payments of the transportation costs" .
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